Vehicle-free zone gets mixed reactions from tourists and traders in Melaka

MELAKA: The decision to turn some of Melaka's busiest tourist-laden streets in Bandar Hilir into a vehicle-free zone during weekends has received mixed reactions from tourists and traders.

Some of those interviewed said the idea to close the roads - Jalan Istana, Jalan Mahkamah, Jalan Gereja, Lorong Gereja, Jalan Laksamana as well as parts of Jalan Tun Khalil Yaakob and Jalan Merdeka - from 6pm to midnight during weekends was brilliant.

However, others criticised it as an unwise move which badly affected the livelihoods of traders as well as shopping complexes in the area.

Even a Facebook post by Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Jusoh on his official page on Sunday (Aug 20) of him taking a ride on a buggy around the car-free streets received slews of backlash.

In support of the change, Shah Beach Resort's general manager Dennis Samford described the move as a clever idea.

"I walked around the vehicle-free zone on Saturday (Aug 19) and found it a very fascinating model similar to tourist streets in Europe.

"This Chief Minister is seen as injecting new ideas and we should give him credit for doing so," he said when interviewed.

Samford said it was a bold move by Ab Rauf to come up with such a decision.

Another tourist Abdul Aziz Kader, 25, from Kedah, said he was impressed by the concept.

"I came for a holiday with my family and we walked from Jalan Bendahara to Dataran Pahlawan on Saturday (Aug 19) and all of us never felt tired walking from one end to another," he said.

Abdul Aziz described his experience as breathtaking while enjoying the scenic heritage buildings along the trail.

However, those opposed to the change included several tourists who complained about the lack of parking in the nearby vicinities.

One tourist Ng Choo Wan, 47, said he drove from Kuala Lumpur for a short holiday here but was stuck in a jam just to get into Jonker Walk night market on Saturday (Aug 19) due to the road closures.

"I believe the state government has made an abrupt move to turn the busiest stretch into a car-free zone without proper planning.

"Those responsible should ensure there is ample parking and no bottlenecks due to the closure," he said.

Traders who requested anonymity claimed business dropped drastically due to the road closures.

"Customers find it troublesome to get to our night market at Dataran Pahlawan.

"The move to close the streets was a bad decision and we had never agreed to it since day one," said one 42-year-old night market trader.

He said the assemblyman in the area was also silent although the traders had objected to the move.

A restaurant manager who also requested anonymity said he noticed fewer customers with the road closures.

"Our regulars also failed to turn up due to the closures and hope the state government could reopen the roads," he said.

MP for Kota Melaka Khoo Poay Tiong said he received complaints from ehailing service providers who were unable to meet the demands of their customers due to the closures.

The dry run of turning the 2.4km stretch in Bandar Hilir, which was a tourist destination, into a vehicle-free zone started on Saturday (Aug 19).

The plan was first mooted by Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ab Rauf in May and had been receiving thumbs down from traders in Bandar Hilir.

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